July 12, 2018 / 5:12 PM / in 4 months

China opens embassy after Burkina Faso severs ties with Taiwan

OUAGADOUGOU (Reuters) - China opened an embassy in Burkina Faso on Thursday, two months after the poor, landlocked West African country cut diplomatic ties with Taiwan.

The move to sever relations with Taiwan in May followed Chinese pressure on African countries to break with what it regards as a wayward province — all of which have now done so except the kingdom of Swaziland.

“The government (of China) attaches great importance to this relationship and intends to be a privileged partner for the development of Burkina Faso,” visiting Chinese Vice Premier Hu Chunhua said at a ceremony to mark the opening.

China has launched a determined campaign over the past two years to lure Taiwan’s last few diplomatic allies away, as it seeks to prevent President Tsai Ing-wen from pushing for the island’s formal independence.

It is also Africa’s largest trade partner, with massive investments in mining, construction and banking. When Burkina Faso decided to fall into line with the anti-Taiwan policy, its foreign ministry said it had been “pushed” into it by the country’s “socio-economic challenges”.

Reporting by Thiam Niaga; Writing by Tim Cocks; Editing by Robin Pomeroy

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